Who is in charge?
Being a leader in higher education administration implies being accessible to the people who need you and being responsive in a timely manner. I won’t argue with that, but I will caution you against unintentionally putting people in charge of decisions that should be yours, such as how you spend your time and what you accomplish each day.
Let me give you some examples of what I see going wrong every day.
- Leaders tell me they spend most of their days responding to e-mails, phone calls, and attending meetings that are initiated by others rather than working on their top priorities. They have no time left to dedicate to strategic work because they get pulled into operational issues that should be handled by others or handled differently.
- Some people take too much of their time, or need too much, or complain too much, or cause too many roadblocks and delays.
- Some individuals, often within the leadership team, cause them frustration, anxiety, or even fear or anger.
- They feel triggered and have difficulty accessing their emotional intelligence when they face difficult situations. They often dread certain meetings and interactions because they expect them to be unpleasant or even painful.
- They are under a tremendous amount of stress and often buried under the weight of too many responsibilities.
- They observe things that “should not be happening” and it leaves them feeling powerless and vulnerable.
- When they hope something will happen but it doesn’t, they tend to take things personally.
- Past events conditioned their minds to expect more unwanted things in the future.
While they may not control what happens around them, they are 100% in charge of what happens within them. They forget that they get to choose the decisions they make, the actions they take, and the emotions they feel. Why don’t they reclaim their personal power? Because they are too busy trying to keep their head above water to set an intention. They forget how much is truly within their control.
Without intention, they fall victim to external circumstances, other people’s agendas and their own disempowering old habits. The key is to set an intention every day and be deliberate rather than reactive as each day unfolds.
Setting an intention
Setting an intention doesn’t mean being rigid but gaining clarity on what you want to see happen. When you are focused on your goals, you can make better decisions and course-correct when you observe yourself falling back into an old pattern.
You can make this process as simple or as sophisticated as you see fit. My recommendation is to be deliberate about the following areas.
1. How you want to feel
Your quality of life is determined by the emotions you feel. An impressive job title and salary won’t matter much if you feel frustrated, anxious, unsafe, stressed, rushed, or overwhelmed most of the time. I urge to start paying close attention to your emotions. They determine not only your well-being, but also your ability to demonstrate emotional intelligence, your aptitude to be an inspiring leader, your capacity to build good relationships, and your work performance.
So start your day by choosing how you intend to feel.
For example, “I intend to feel calm and grounded. I will focus on gratitude and appreciation. I will find meaning in my work.”
When you hold a very strong intention, it becomes easier to observe your reactions throughout the day and see when you need to make some adjustments.
- Someone asks you something unreasonable. Instead of getting offended by the request or turning your day into chaos by saying yes, you can simply remind you that your intention is to feel good and it’s ok to politely decline without getting upset.
- You’re assigned an intimidating project. Instead of letting your mind go into self-doubt and fear about everything that can go wrong, remind yourself that you were chosen because you are capable. You trust yourself and trust your ability to handle it.
- If something unfair happens but there is nothing you can do about it, instead of fighting reality and getting upset, you can remind yourself that your intention is to feel good so you are going to put your attention on something else.
The way you feel is determined not by what happens to you but by what meaning you create in your mind. Don’t let external events control you. You get to choose what perspective you embrace, and how you feel, by choosing what does or doesn’t deserve your attention.
2. What you want to accomplish
It is essential to set reasonable daily goals based on your priorities. You will be less likely to let people hijack your day if you commit to particular goals, block off time in your schedule to accomplish them, and keep yourself accountable.
To do lists don’t work because they are too long, they don’t indicate levels of importance or urgency, they don’t create structure, and they lack logic. When you have 15 things on your mind to do in one day, you will be scattered, feel overwhelmed, be distracted, and may not accomplish any of the 15 items. However, if you choose 3 goals that you must accomplish each day and you follow-through, you will feel lighter and at the end of a 5-day workweek you’ll have completed all 15 tasks. So be intentional!
High achievers tend to think (and feel) that they should always do more. As a result, without setting an intention about daily goals they will never feel accomplished. The only way to feel good knowing you’ve reached your goals is to set clear and measurable goals and standards. Here again, setting an intention is powerful!
3. What you will or won’t allow
Remember that what you allow continues, so if you want something to stop, you can’t keep tolerating it while hoping other people will come to their senses and change. You have the power to create healthy boundaries and to communicate clear expectations.
People will have more respect and appreciation for you when you’re not afraid to show your values and your backbone. Nobody likes pleasers and pushovers – unless they are taking advantage of them. You don’t want to be used or manipulated, do you? Strong leaders set standards by modeling the behaviors they want to see in others. When you act more self-empowered, you will inspire others to do the same.
Keep in mind that your standards and expectations are not only about other people but about yourself too. If you tend to procrastinate, avoid unpleasant projects, or do anything else that causes you guilt or regret, stop it! Make commitments to yourself and act accordingly.
In summary, setting an intention is about being deliberate and strategic, and taking full responsibility for your actions, thoughts, and emotions. Once you do it consistently, your entire life will transform. Do it! Need help? I am only a phone call away. Click here to schedule a complimentary call and discuss how I can help you reclaim your personal power and radically improve your happiness and productivity.
About the author: Dr. Audrey Reille has empowered thousands of professionals through one-on-one coaching, group coaching, speaking engagements, online courses, and interviews on international telesummits. Audrey is the go-to coach for leaders in higher education administration. She empowers them to thrive by reducing stress, optimizing strategies, improving professional relationships, and developing a strong and empowered mindset.